BOSTON — The state's Democratic Party huddles this weekend to nominate candidates in wide-open races for governor, attorney general and other statewide offices ahead of this fall's elections.
Topping the Democratic party's ticket is a wide-open governor's race between Attorney General Maura Healey and state Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz, D-Jamaica Plain, who are both vying for the nomination at the two-day convention in Worcester, which kicks off Friday night.
Healey, the perceived frontrunner in the race, is widely expected to win a majority of the delegates but political observers will be watching to see if Díaz can garner the 15% vote needed to get on the Sept. 6 primary ballot.
Democrats are heading into the convention optimistic about holding on to the several statewide offices and retaking the governor's office for the first time in eight years, with Republican Gov. Charlie Baker not seeking a third term.
"We can't take anything for granted, given that we've only had one Democratic governor in the last 30 years," said Phil Johnston, a former chairman of the state Democratic Party and delegate who is backing Healey. "We need to work extra hard to make sure that we win, but I'm very optimistic that we will win."
The race for lieutenant governor remains less certain, with a crowded field of Democrats vying for enough votes to win a spot on the ballot.
Five hopefuls are running for the second-in-command job, including Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll and Bret Bero, a Boston businessman making his first run for elected office.
Several lawmakers — Sens. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield, Eric Lesser, D-Longmeadow, and Tami Gouveia, D-Acton — are also seeking the party's nomination.
Candidates for governor and lieutenant governor run separately, and winners are matched on the general election ballot. So far, neither of the Democratic gubernatorial candidates have hinted at which of the five candidates they would favor for a running mate.
Further down the ticket, state Sen. Diana DiZoglio, D-Methuen, and Chris Dempsey, a transit advocate, are seeking the party's nomination to run for state auditor following Democrat Suzanne Bump's decision not to seek another four-year term.
Meanwhile, three Democrats — Boston City Councilor Andrea Campbell, Quentin Palfrey, a former assistant attorney general, and attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan — are running for attorney general with Healey seeking the top elected office.
Tanisha Sullivan, president of the Boston chapter of the NAACP, is seeking the party's nomination against incumbent Secretary of State Bill Galvin, who is seeking an unprecedented eighth term in office. Galvin, who has held the office since 1995, is one of the longest serving secretaries' of state.
State Treasurer Deb Goldberg, a Democrat who is seeking a third-term, is the only statewide candidate who is unopposed at this weekend's convention.
The candidates have spent months making the rounds at city and town party committee meetings to talk about their reasons for running and drum up support from local delegates ahead of the convention.
Besides nominating candidates, the gathering will also be an opportunity for Democrats to voice their concerns about major issues ahead of the midterm elections, including abortion access and gun control.
Democratic U.S. Sens. Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren are among the speakers set to address delegates on Saturday.
The state Republican Party held its convention two weeks ago, where former state Rep. Geoff Diehl and Wrentham business owner Chris Doughty, and their chosen running mates, garnered enough votes to make the GOP primary ballot.
Republican delegates overwhelmingly endorsed Donald Trump-backed Diehl for governor and his running mate, former state Rep. Leah Cole Allen, for lieutenant governor. Diehl won the support of 71% of the delegates, while Doughty outstripped expectations by coming away with 29% of the vote while his running mate, former state Rep. Kate Campanale, won 30% of the vote.
There's also an element of suspense in potential outcomes from this weekend's Democratic Party convention. While some delegates have voiced their support for candidates, others have said they are waiting until the convention to decide.
One statewide race where party delegates appear to be undecided is the wide-open race for state auditor between DiZoglio and Dempsey.
Republican Anthony Amore, the lone GOP candidate in the race, suggested that undecided delegates should wait until the primary to pull a GOP ballot and vote for him.
"Even Democrats should be concerned about one-party rule on Beacon Hill, and many are comfortable with having a moderate Republican in office to keep checks and balances in place," he said Thursday. "A majority of Democrats support Governor Baker, and he thinks they should elect me too."
Christian M. Wade covers the Massachusetts Statehouse for North of Boston Media Group’s newspapers and websites. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.